Holiday Mint Fudge

 

This holiday season we wanted to make some fudge.  Since I had a bag of the Nestle Tollhouse Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels (10 oz) in the pantry that was going to be my base.  A lot of recipes for fudge these days use the microwave but I still like using a double boiler to melt my chocolate.

One caveat with this recipe is the dark chocolate and mint morsels are seasonal.  If you see it like I did just buy them.  I bought these before knowing what I was going to make but had never seen them before so what the heck…something delicious will be had with them.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1- 10 oz Nestle Tollhouse Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsel package
  • 2 cups (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare a 9 X 13 pan with wax paper or parchment hanging over the edge for easy removal.  Using a double boiler melt all ingredients stirring until smooth.  Pour into pan, smooth top with spatula and let cool.  Once cool lift wax paper out of pan and cut to desired size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIPS:

  • Use 2 pkgs of the Nestle Tollhouse instead of the semi- sweet chocolate
  • Taste the mixture and adjust the extracts to your liking.
  • Due to the manufacturing of some extracts and chocolate you may have a greasy look to the top of your fudge after you pour into pan.  If this happens do not fret.  Pour the mixture back into your double boiler, add 1 Tablespoon of water and stir.  You may have to do this a few times.  **When I made this recipe I had to add 2 T of water, but it came out perfect.  I also probably added close to 1 teaspoon of each extract but it is taste dependent.

 

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Rockin’ the vegetables

I admit I sometimes get stuck making the same old vegetables, especially when it comes to brussels sprouts and butternut squash. When I saw two new recipes in the November issue of Health Magazine for Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash I knew immediately I had to try them.

It is not like me to not tweak recipes and make them my own but I resisted any temptations and followed the recipes exactly.  Both recipes are easy to make and will be a welcomed addition to your arsenal of vegetable and grains.  The recipes have been copied here for your convenience with the links provided.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

According to Health magazine these were adapted from “Kitchen Matters” by Pamela Salzman

Brussels Sprout and Quinoa Hash With Fried Eggs

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ghee or avocado oil
  • 8 ounces brussels sprouts (about 2 cups), halved and thinly sliced, ends discarded
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, millet, or brown rice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha, or more to taste
  • 2 large eggs
Step 1

Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add brussels sprouts and sauté until tender but still slightly crisp, 4 to 5 minutes.

Step 2

Add quinoa and season with salt and pepper ; cook until quinoa is warmed through. Stir in sriracha. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

Step 3

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon ghee in a medium skillet. Crack 1 egg into a small bowl, then slide into skillet. Repeat with remaining egg. Cook until whites are set and yolks reach desired doneness, about 4 minutes for soft, runny yolks.

Step 4

Divide brussels sprout mixture between 2 bowls and top each with a fried egg.

 

 Ingredients

Au Gratin Potatoes

 

With 2 bags of potatoes in my pantry it was no brainer to decide that one of the Christmas dishes would include potatoes.

Looking through the freezer and fridge, I also had some Parmesan-Reggiano (1 cup) and heavy cream.  It is decided- Au Gratin Potatoes.  These potatoes will remind you of an Alfredo and is rich, creamy and decadent.

Combine the following in a bowl and set aside:

  • 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Thinly slice approximately 2 1/2 lbs or 3-4 large peeled potatoes.  I like using a mandoline for even slicing and place my potatoes in water so they don’t brown while I am assembling.

If you are going to bake right away- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  You can also make the day ahead and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.

Grease a 2- 1/2 quart baking dish (cooking spray or 2 tablespoons of melted butter).

You will be layering the ingredients- depending on your baking dish used it may be 3 or 4 layers.

  • Layer of potatoes
  • Layer of cheese
  • Liquid mixture
  • Repeat

Bake uncovered for 60-70 minutes.

Tips:

  1. Use another type of cheese
  2. Add onions and/ or red peppers:  I would incorporate before the cheese layer.
  3. Have left over ham, dice and add a meat layer.
  4. Don’t like garlic?  leave it out.
  5. I have also added smoked paprika (1 teaspoon)

 

 

Crock pot hot chocolate

Nothing says comfort like a smooth chocolaty cup of cocoa on a cold day.  For my Christmas brunch I wanted to make hot chocolate in the crock pot for everyone to enjoy.

Asking around my cousin  provided me with his go to recipe from:  https://www.thecountrycook.net/crock-pot-creamy-hot-chocolate/

It definitely was a hit and is very creamy and delish!!

A bottle of Peppermint Schnapps was provided if the adults wanted to add a little cheer.  Bowls of mini-marshmallows and mini candy canes were available so everyone could make their cup special.

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate

Put on low for 2 hours.

Tips:

Warm a little of the milk on the stove top and then add the cocoa powder and whisk before adding to crock pot- Otherwise you will spend some time whisking to incorporate the cocoa powder.

You can also do it all on stove top and then add to crock pot to keep warm.

My Accidental Mediterranean Pasta

I couldn’t decide what type of sauce I was going to make for my Rigatoni and Italian Sausage Dinner.  I kept going back and forth…basic red sauce with onions, green peppers, garlic and tomatoes?  Roasted Red Pepper Sauce?  A sauce using the 1/2 can of pumpkin I have leftover?  After much debate I decided on the roasted red pepper sauce.  A creamy pureed sauce made with roasted red peppers, sauteed onions and garlic, chicken broth and heavy cream.  Yes!!!  That is what I am craving…..

Started sauteing one onion diced with about 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic. Head off to the pantry and grabbed the jar of roasted red peppers.  I open it up and wait…those aren’t roasted red peppers.  In my hands were sun-dried tomatoes.  I guess when I went to the store I bought sun-dried tomatoes instead of roasted red peppers.  Usually I like to have both as staples in my pantry but after being on vacation for almost a month the pantry was a little bare and I am in the midst of restocking.

Okay–time to regroup.  I can do this.  Let’s see what else I have in the pantry and fridge.

  • Jar of artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 jar of capers
  • Some leftover sparkling cider
  • Feta cheese
  • A lemon
  • Chicken stock base
  • Heavy whipping cream

Mediterranean- based pasta it is!!!  I julienne about 1/2 jar of the sun-dried tomatoes and add it to my onion-garlic mixture, along with 1/2 jar of the artichoke hearts.

After a couple minutes, in goes the sparkling apple cider (@1 cup) and about 2 cups of chicken broth I make from the base.

If you don’t have this chicken or beef base in your fridge- go buy it.  This is a staple that I have used when I needed it in a pinch.  Always great to have it on hand.

I let this simmer and reduce a bit then add some capers and the juice of 1/2 lemon.

At this point the sauce is delicious and I almost didn’t add any heavy cream but I had it in the fridge so why not…..add some cream and let thicken to your decided consistency.

I have to admit I was starving and didn’t let it did long or thicken but it was still wonderful.

Made my plate and added some feta…..a Mediterranean dish in a flash!!!

 

Without heavy whipping cream. Could just reduce at this point and use.

After the addition of heavy whipping cream.

Teriyaki Black Cods Tips

Black cod, aka Sablefish or Butterfish, is caught in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California.  The mistake most people make when trying black cod for the first time is not realizing this is not Atlantic or Pacific Cod.  Atlantic and Pacific cod is a versatile mild white fish and what most think of when hearing “cod”.  Trust me when I fist tried it years ago I was one of those.  As a side note,  young Atlantic cod is called haddock or scrod.

Black cod is meaty like halibut although it is an oily fish.  It has a pearly white flesh and mild flavor.  The oil content lends it great fish to be grilled and where the flavor comes from.  You might have seen my other post marinating the tips brown sugar and soy sauce (which is delicious- by the way), but I wanted to change it up so decided to try a teriyaki version.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup OJ
  • a squeeze from 1/2 lime
  • 1 lb black cod tips

Let marinate a few hours or overnight.  I didn’t want to get the grill going so I used the cook top.  Heat a pan with a little oil and cook tips until done.  Adding some of the marinade will make a glaze as it reduces.

This fish does well on its own with a side of veggies and rice or you can use in stir fry of cabbage and noodles…think yakisoba or a regular stir fry.

 

 

Sautéed Cabbage with Turmeric

cabbage-raw

Cabbage has been one of my go to veggies this year.  I just love how versatile it is.  I was at a free Farmer’s Market where I heard and saw a lot of people pass over the cabbage because they didn’t know what to do with it.  Coleslaw, soups, sauerkraut, cabbage rolls, bierocks, egg rolls, salads, and more!

I have been wanting to add more turmeric in my diet for its anti-inflammatory properties and was excited when I saw a recipe in February’s Food & Wine for Sautéed Cabbage with Cumin Seeds and Turmeric.  The recipe is great as is and super simple.  Sauté 3 lbs of finely shredded cabbage in 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil with 1 1/2 teaspoons each of cumin seeds,turmeric and kosher salt until cabbage is soft (about 15-20 minutes).

Always thinking how to make it my own – why not add some ginger root.  It is also an anti-inflammatory and I like the brightness it can bring to a dish.

ginger-and-tumeric

A great side dish or serve with some rice for a meatless Monday dish.  Can’t give up the meat?  Sauté some chicken to add in or a lean ground meat.  This basic dish can be the basis for your own creativity.  Next time I am going to add large pieces of carrots to add some texture.